With the number of swine flu victims worldwide growing, and the number of those who have the flu growing in the United States, the nation’s leading life insurance trade group says that life insurers stand ready to meet their obligations should the outbreak mushroom into a pandemic.
Whit Cornman, a spokesman for the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, was careful to say that although the situation is serious and bears watching, it is not at this point a reason for undue fear. If the flu does start to spread more rapidly and fatalities increase dramatically, Cornman notes that the life insurance industry has had experience in preparing for such a calamity with the avian bird flu scare four years ago. He notes that the industry paid claims through previous calamities such as the 1918 pandemic, other flu outbreaks in 1957 and 1968 and other major events such as World War II.
At 1 p.m. today, the Center for Disease Control, Atlanta, placed the number of cases in the U.S. at 40 cases as follows: California, 7 cases; Kansas, 2 cases; New York City, 28 cases; Ohio, 1 case; and Texas, 2 cases. In New York, the cases are centered in one school in Fresh Meadows, Queens—St. Francis Prep. Press reports suggest there are 17 potential additional cases at the school as well as 2 other cases nationally. More information on the swine flu can be accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/.
On April 26, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a nationwide public health emergency. And, the World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert level after 73 cases have been confirmed worldwide on April 27. There are hundreds more suspected cases. In Mexico, 149 people have died and nearly 2,000 people are hospitalized.